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Get the latest version of Microsoft Office for $12 per month

With the release of Office 365, Microsoft introduced an entirely new way to buy Microsoft Office – with a monthly subscription.

Microsoft Office is deeply imbedded in the workday of millions of businesses. Without a doubt, it's the de-facto standard for word processing and everyone has been subjected to PowerPoint presentations. So when Microsoft releases a new version of Office, there is a huge potential base of uses that can benefit. And even with a large number of significant improvements, the costs of updating to a new version of Office can be more than a business on a budget can justify.

You can buy Microsoft Office 2010 from retail stores, online and through special programs offered by Microsoft such as volume licensing and partner programs, but with the release of Office 365, Microsoft introduced an entirely new way to buy Microsoft Office. You can now buy the Microsoft's Office Professional Plus (called Office Pro Plus or OPP for short) for $12 per user per month. With this subscription you get the latest and greatest version of Office 2010 with all the bells and whistles and you can install it on up to five devices per user.

Office Pro Plus

There are a lot of advantages to the Office Professional Plus subscription, not the least of which is that you reduce your upfront expense for software. Paying by the month, you know exactly what your software costs will be. This subscription based pricing is available from Microsoft as a standalone offer, or as part of Office 365 services.

Office Pro Plus includes Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, InfoPath, SharePoint Workspace and Lync. Note: at this time, the link above also states that Business Contact Manager is part of the deal, but that is evidently not correct.

So how does this work? Starting on the Office Pro Plus page at you click Buy Now. This starts the sign up process which is same as the Office 365 sign up process described in my previous TechRepublic Blog post. During this process you will create a login user name and password that you use to access the Office Portal. When you login with those credentials, you can download and install Office Professional Plus.

Activation

Unlike retail versions of Microsoft Office, Office Pro Plus is activated, automatically over the Internet. That means you have no keys to manage or keep. If you need to install it on a system, just login to the Office 365 Portal, download, and install.

When you run the Office Pro Plus setup, you'll be asked to provide your Office 365 credentials. Then the Office 365 Setup utility will prepare your system so it can communicate with the Office 365 services. This allows your system to automatically connect to Office 365 services specifically built for Office Professional Plus in order to verify that you still have an active subscription. Once validated, OPP installs on your system.

Behind the scenes, Office Professional Plus will check in with Office 365 services to insure you're still an active subscriber and to make sure that you have not installed Office on more than five devices. If you can't connect to the Internet, it will keep trying until the subscription is verified. In the meantime you can keep using Office.

Eventually, though, you do need to connect to Internet to insure compliance. After 60 days without connecting to Office 365, Office Pro Plus will enter a "reduced functionality" mode. You will be able to open, documents, but not use most features. If this happens to you for some reason, you can reactive Office by opening a command window or typing one of the following commands into the Run dialogue box:

  • OSAUI.exe /K - reactivates the Office 365 account associated with the password previously entered.
  • OSAUI.exe /F - reactivates a different Office 365 account.

If you have multiple users, you can deploy Office Professional Plus from a network share, or use other managed deployment options for larger organizations. You can find specific details on these options on TechNet.

Bottom line

Office Professional Plus is available as a trial as part of the Office 365 E3 service. You can sign up for 30 days of access to Office 365 without cost or obligation and download Office Professional Plus as a part of the trial. Be advised, however, that if you do not go on to buy the subscription, you will need to uninstall Office Pro Plus.

In other words, do not overwrite or upgrade your existing version of Office with a trial of Office Professional Plus unless you plan to continue using the service as you will have to revert to a different version of Office after the trial.

In sum, the Office Professional Plus subscription is a new way to reduce your upfront costs for full-featured version of Microsoft Office. Under this plan you can keep your applications current and install Office on up to five devices per user. There is a lot of value here that deserves consideration.

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